Biden taps top FEMA and CDC officials to coordinate fight against monkeypox outbreak

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has chosen top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead the country’s fight against monkey pox.

FEMA’s Robert Fenton will serve as the White House’s National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis will serve as deputy coordinator, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

The two officials will lead the government’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments, the statement said.

The appointments come after the government has come under criticism for the rapid availability of vaccines for monkeypox, a rare viral infection that usually does not cause serious illness but can lead to hospitalization or death. Monkeypox spreads through close, physical contact between people.

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President Joe Biden has tapped top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead the government in the fight against the monkeypox outbreak.

More than 20,000 cases of monkeypox have been discovered worldwide, with more than 5,800 cases reported in the United States. Last Friday, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern,” along with COVID-19 and polio in that designation.

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Clinics in major cities like New York and San Francisco say they haven’t gotten enough of the dual vaccine to meet demand, and some have had to stop offering the second dose of the vaccine to allow delivery of the first doses. to ensure.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday that 1.1 million doses of monkeypox vaccine have been distributed in the United States, including 737,000 doses issued in recent days. More than 80,000 tests for monkeypox have been administered each week, she said.

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When asked whether Biden plans to declare a public health emergency, Jean-Pierre said the decision rests with Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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But “we are considering every policy option to help end this outbreak,” she said. “That’s urgent, and that’s important to us.”

dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and Biden’s top scientific advisor, praised the appointment of Fenton and Daskalakis on Monday night and said he hoped they would coordinate the various federal agencies involved in the monkeypox response. , would tighten.

“Personally, I think we’re dealing with a very serious problem here,” Fauci said. “There are many unknowns. Much is known about monkey pox, but there are still many unknowns. So we need to really implement the interventions that we have, get a much better sense of the natural history and scope and definitely reach out to the community, and that’s why I think the Bob and Demetre combination is a really good combination. ”

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Who are Robert Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis?

Fenton serves as the regional board for FEMA’s Region 9, which spans the West and has nearly 50 million people in its area of ​​responsibility. He was twice Acting Administrator of FEMA and over the course of his career led multiple prevention, response and recovery operations, including for natural disasters, disease outbreaks and complex humanitarian operations.

Daskalakis is director of the CDC’s HIV Prevention Division. He is known as a national expert on health issues affecting LGBGQIA+ communities. He previously oversaw infectious disease management for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, one of the largest departments in the nation.

Both played a role in making COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to underserved communities and closing the equality gap in adult vaccination rates, through the implementation and operation of FEMA mass vaccination sites in some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

Contributions: The UK Time News

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Monkeypox: Biden picks FEMA official to lead the fight against outbreak

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